South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has renewed his longstanding call for action to halt bank closures- before local bank branches disappear for good out with Scotland’s largest towns and cities.
The comments come after the TSB became the latest bank to announce further branch closures, with 73 branches and 300 jobs being axed across Scotland including Berwick-upon-Tweed, Castle Douglas, Hawick, Kelso, North Berwick, Peebles, Penicuik and Prestwick in South Scotland.
Commenting on the closures Colin Smyth said: “Even during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, bank branches were allowed to remain open because it was recognised they provided a lifeline service to customers, in particular older people and the vulnerable. It is an absolute kick in the teeth from the TSB for those key workers who went to work to keep those branches open, that the company is now planning on axing many of those workers jobs.
“While the TSB will claim fewer people are using branches, the industry has been useless at trying to find solutions such as shared banking hubs that more than one bank use for their customers to cut costs. It also brings home once again the failure of the UK Government to put in place tighter obligations on banks when it comes to the closures such as mandatory consultations. Local Conservative MPs Alister Jack, David Munnell and John Lamont need to explain why they keep voting against such measures in Parliament.”
Colin Smyth has been urging the UK Government to bring in legislation, which would require mandatory consultation on any proposals for bank branch closures and tighter restrictions to stop branches closing if they are the last bank in a town or village. He has also been urging the Scottish Government to do more, for example redoubling efforts to grow credit unions in our communities to make them a viable alternative along with Post Offices and delivering far more support for regenerating our increasingly neglected town centres to increase footfall.